While on a plane this week, I perused a year-old issue of Writer’s Digest. (I’m a little behind on my reading.) An article about a type of poem called the glosa, which originated in Spain in the 15th century, caught my attention. The author had made his own attempt at the form, which reminded me of how much I used to like writing poetry—imaginatively articulating thoughts and emotions through rhythm and heightened language, seeking and (hopefully) finding the words that most perfectly expressed my subject’s essence.
When I arrived home, I pulled out a black three-ring binder containing materials from a class I took over a dozen years ago, called “Writing from the Collective Unconscious.” I vaguely remembered composing most of the pieces (for example, “Scrabble”) per a number of inspiring assignments. For instance, in an exercise on surrealism, we were instructed to write the letters A to Z on a piece of paper and then record the first word that came to mind for each. We were then asked to choose two consecutive words from the list to serve as the title of a poem. (See “Aardvark Bowling.”)
At my instructor’s invitation, I read the following poem, “Luxor,” at a community arts event. I began writing it in the food court of the Las Vegas hotel of the same name.
As an English major, I “explicated” (interpreted and explained) countless poems. It occurred to me years later that analyzing a poem was like dissecting a frog—examining the parts in order to understand the whole. In a high school classroom, a frog is dead when it is taken apart; I wondered if the life left a poem when it was analyzed. To be on the safe side, I decided not to cut up any more poems.
Now I just enjoy their music and experience their meaning.